Patriots

Tom Brady, other players may be in favor of an 18-game season

Tom Brady, other players may be in favor of an 18-game season

During the last CBA negotiation between NFL owners and the NFLPA, players almost unanimously panned the idea of an 18-game regular season.

But with the agreement struck in July of 2011 set to expire after the 2020 season, the idea of lengthening the season is poking its head out of the sand once again

And there may be more traction for it this time around.

During last week’s minicamp, I asked Tom Brady about it. I didn’t frame the question very well, leading the witness by saying, “How much damage would an 18-game season do to players?”

Brady didn’t readily agree to the direction I was headed.

“It depends how you take care of yourself,” he said. “That’s how I see it. I think your ability to play, your ability to practice is as good as your ability to recover. So if you can’t recover, I think a six-game schedule is hard. I try to focus on the recovery of things and try to be out here every day in practice. I know it takes a level of focus and commitment to do that. There’s a lot of work in advance that needs to be done to make that happen. So … I love football.”

Brady is evangelical about health and the idea it’s attainable for everyone if they commit to the process.

The business and science of training, nutrition, rest and recovery are going to be the centerpiece of his post-football professional life. So maybe his response shouldn’t have surprised me. And the “so … I love football,” comment seemed to be a request to bring it on.

Some rank-and-file players might sniff at Brady’s stance. He plays quarterback and – while it’s the most vulnerable position on the field – it’s also the most protected and the collision quotient is a lot lower than linemen, linebackers, running backs, etc. Brady also figures to be out of the league for the bulk of the new agreement (figures to be) so he wouldn’t have to deal with the ramifications.

But the money to be made from two extra games and the utter uselessness of a four-game preseason ensure this isn’t going away.

And another quarterback (albeit a former one) said last week there’s a groundswell of support from the PLAYERS to make the change.

“If you put it up to a vote by the NFL players, it’ll overwhelmingly go over and say yes,” Phil Simms said on his son Chris Simms’ “Unbuttoned” podcast. “Some of the elite quarterbacks and a few players, no. Well yeah, you’re making 25 and 30 million. But the guys that are making a million or less . . . two more game checks? Are you kidding me? Think about what those checks look like and how much that is and how much of a difference it makes in their lives.”

While Simms may sense support among players, the percentage of players in favor will never match the percentage of owners who would be unanimous in wanting more product to sell to the networks, fans, etc.

So it may shape up to be an actual bargaining chip instead of the non-starter it’s seemed to be in the past. If the players want weed restrictions relaxed and unilateral disciplinary power taken away from the commissioner, let’s play 18.

“The players probably won’t have much say in it. It’ll probably be a select few players with their [executive] committee and DeMaurice Smith,” Simms predicted. “If you put it up to vote, there’s no doubt the players would vote to go 18 games. I do think it’s heading that way. Just think when the owners get into all of this. Two more weeks of TV money. TV would want it too. Just because it’s the greatest thing on every network. I never thought it would come about but …last year, you know I love watching preseason games. It was awful.”

As opposed to 2011 when there was a 132-day lockout before a resolution was reached, these negotiations could be smoother. Both sides are doing well financially as the salary cap keeps shooting upward and the owner/player rancor that flowed from 2016 to 2018 seems to have subsided for now.

The idea a deal could be struck before this season begins has even been floated. Unlikely though that may be, expect to see all these topics come to the fore in the next few months and the 18-game proposal become a major part of the negotiations.

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Jonas Gray to the XFL? Ex-Patriots running back attends showcase

Jonas Gray to the XFL? Ex-Patriots running back attends showcase

The ultimate "one-hit wonder" in New England is intent on keeping his football career alive.

Former Patriots running back Jonas Gray joined a handful of NFL castoffs who participated in an XFL "Summer Showcase" workout this weekend in St. Louis.

Among those joining Gray for the new league's workout session were former No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson, ex-Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger and tight end Clay Harbor, who played for the Patriots for part of 2016.

Gray latched on with the Patriots in 2014 and burst onto the scene in November, rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a win over the Indianapolis Colts.

But the Notre Dame product fizzled out as fast as he arrived, tallying just 91 more total yards after that breakout game and getting released by New England the following September.

Gray, 29, hasn't played an NFL snap since 2015, but apparently has his sights set on the XFL, which is set to relaunch in 2020 after a failed first attempt in 2001.

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Cowboys ahead of Patriots? Madden NFL 20 team ratings may cause a stir

Cowboys ahead of Patriots? Madden NFL 20 team ratings may cause a stir

EA Sports released full player and team ratings for its "Madden NFL 20" video game Monday, and you know what that means: It's time for everyone to get angry about them.

The New England Patriots actually fared pretty well in the player rating department, as "Madden" gave Tom Brady the second-highest rating among NFL quarterbacks and assigned high grades to cornerback Stephon Gilmore, wide receiver Julian Edelman and a few others.

So, surely the defending Super Bowl champions would have one of the highest (if not the highest) team grades, right?

You would think, but "Madden" gave New England an 87 overall rating ... tied with three other teams for third in the NFL.

Here's the top five:

1. Philadelphia Eagles: 89
2. Dallas Cowboys: 88
T-3. New Orleans Saints: 87
T-3. Green Bay Packers: 87
T-3. New England Patriots: 87

This a video game, remember, so a team's overall rating doesn't necessarily correlate to its projected record. The Patriots have proven time and again you can win Super Bowls without having the most "talent."

... But the Cowboys ahead of the Patriots? Seriously?

"Madden" makes a compelling case for the Eagles, who boast a talented roster with five players ranked 90 overall or better and should be an NFC contender if Carson Wentz stays healthy.

The Cowboys are coming off a 10-6 season, though, and haven't made it past the Divisional Round since quarterback Dak Prescott took over the offense. We're guessing EA Sports is blinded by Dallas' star power with big names like Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott on offense and DeMarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee on defense.

The Patriots' offense did get some love, earning a 91 rating that trailed only the Saints at 92. But their defense rating of 84 appears to have knocked them down a few pegs in the virtual world, where Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (who went 6-9-1 last season) are somehow on the same plane as the reigning champs.

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